Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In Grief, Irony
One answer is the ever-expanding definition of "mental illness." As Angell pointed out, back in 1968, within most Americans' lifetimes, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the so-called "bible of psychiatry," contained 185 diagnoses.
By 1980, it had risen to 265. The 2000 edition reported 365 and the next edition, to be published in 2013, will undoubtedly have more. Among possible new entries is something called "grieving disorder."
When you think about it, the idea of grief as mental illness is absurd. As the British medical journal The Lancet put it, "Grief is not an illness; it is more usefully thought of as part of being human and a normal response to the death of a loved one."Publishng being what it is, I read that while everyone knew he was dying. Prophetic? Perhaps, but such was not really Colson's point. Here is is real point:
Grief is our response to loss and to reminders of our finitude. We grieve because on this side of eternity nothing good lasts forever.
This is, as Angell tells us, partly driven by our infatuation with pharmaceuticals. A psychiatric label means that there may be a pill that will make it better, and TV ads regularly promote it.
The real problem is that we increasingly see ourselves as biochemical machines with brains instead of souls. What we think and feel is the product of brain chemistry and correcting what ails us is a matter of tinkering with that chemistry.As I talk to friends, and occasionally myself, I am constantly saying that medication masks, but God can heal.
This worldview has no place for compassion, remembrance, or empathy because, ultimately, it has no room for being human, especially a normal one.
Technorati Tags:mental illness, faith
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator